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Bizdom U: “Wantrepreneurs” need not apply

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Dan Gilbert is a Detroit native, but he believes in Cleveland big time. And he has put his money where his mouth is.

The chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, headquartered in Detroit, is majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, operates Quicken Loans Arena, where the team plays, and is building a casino in downtown Cleveland.

Now he's bringing an opportunity to Cleveland entrepreneurs to help them succeed.

The opportunity is Bizdom U, which Gilbert launched in Detroit in 2007. "Bizdom U. is a non-profit program Gilbert created to provide entrepreneurs with the necessary training and funding to launch a business in exchange for a share of ownership in that business," explains Ross Sanders, Bizdom U CEO. The program has helped create 14 businesses in Detroit, and plans call for launching three more by the end of 2011.

Bizdom U is rigorous and extremely demanding, according to Sanders.

"We want people with strong drive and dedication," he states. "We make a definite distinction between entrepreneurs and those I call 'wantrepreneurs'. 'Wantrepreneurs' want to be their own boss and set their own hours but aren't willing to go through everything necessary to make it happen. We're looking for people with a successful track record and a good business idea."

Bizdom U Cleveland officially begins this fall. The full-time program is free, lasts four to six months and will accommodate 20 entrepreneurs. Participants receive training, books, laptops, personal data devices and a living stipend.

Participants who complete the program must develop and present a detailed business plan. If their plan is accepted, participants can receive start-up funding of up to $100,000 from the nonprofit Bizdom Fund, a share of their own business, an opportunity to earn a greater share of ownership over time and eight months of post-launch coaching, as well as ongoing mentoring. Proceeds from businesses developed through Bizdom U go back into the Bizdom Fund to invest in future companies.

Bizdom U Cleveland has already hired a Clevelander to recruit Cleveland entrepreneurs to the program and will also hire a Clevelander as training leader. They're currently seeking office space in downtown Cleveland.

Source: Ross Sanders, Bizdom U
Writer: Lynne Meyer
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